Leatherback sea turtle

species of reptile
(Redirected from Leatherback turtle)

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living sea turtles. It is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians.[1][2]

Leatherback sea turtle
A leatherback sea turtle digging in the sand
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Dermochelys coriacea

Adults average 1–1.75 metres (3.3–5.7 ft) in shell length, 1.83–2.2 metres (6.0–7.2 ft) in total length and weigh 250 to 700 kilograms (550 to 1,540 lb).[3][4] The largest ever found was over 3 metres (9.8 ft) from head to tail and weighed 916 kilograms (2,019 lb).[5] It was found on a beach on the west coast of Wales.[6]

The eggs and young are often eaten by predators, but the adults can defend themselves aggressively. Only the largest sea predators can tackle a leatherback successfully.[7]

Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. They have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres (4,200 ft).[8]

They are also the fastest-moving reptiles. The 1992 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists the leatherback turtle moving at 35.28 kilometres per hour (21.92 mph) in the water.[9][10] Usually, they swim at 0.5–2.8 metres per second (1.1–6.3 mph).[11]

They can live as far north as Alaska and Norway and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and the southernmost tip of New Zealand.[3] The leatherback is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, and it also goes well into the Arctic Circle.[12]

Very little is known about how long they live. Some reports say "30 years or more",[13] while others say "50 years or more".[14]


  1. "WWF - Leatherback turtle". Marine Turtles. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 16 February 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  2. "The Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)". turtles.org. 24 January 2004. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Species Fact Sheet: Leatherback Sea Turtle". Caribbean Conservation Corporation & Sea Turtle Survival League. Caribbean Conservation Corporation. 29 December 2005. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  4. Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
  5. Eckert K.L. and Luginbuhl C. 1988. "Death of a giant". Marine Turtle Newsletter. 43: 2–3.
  6. Mystery of Wales turtle 'solved', BBC News, 2004, retrieved 19 June 2012
  7. "Sea Turtle". Seaworld. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
  8. Doyle, T.K. et al 2008. "Leatherback Turtles satellite tagged in European waters". Endangered Species Research. 4: 23–31. doi:10.3354/esr00076.
  9. Shweky, Rachel (1999). "Speed of a Turtle or Tortoise". The Physics Factbook. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  10. McFarlan, Donald (1991). Guinness Book of Records 1992. New York: Guinness. More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)
  11. Swim speed and movement patterns of gravid leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) at St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Scott A. Eckert, The Journal of Experimental Biology 205, 3689-3697 (2002)
  12. Willgohs J.F. (1957). "Occurrence of the Leathery Turtle in the northern North Sea and off western Norway" (PDF). Nature. 179 (4551): 163–164. doi:10.1038/179163a0. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  13. Dermochelys coriacea. "Dermochelys coriacea". Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  14. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "Leatherback sea turtle". Retrieved 19 June 2012.